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Commission not told of pre 911 slipup { August 11 2005 }

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Kean: No one told us of a pre-9/11 slip-up
Panelists to hear claim of bungled Atta data
Thursday, August 11, 2005

WASHINGTON -- If defense intelligence officials knew about alQaeda operatives in the United States a year before they committed the 9/11 hijackings, as a Pennsylvania congressman contends, that was never disclosed to the commission that investigated the 2001 attacks, the panel's chairman said yesterday.

"I can tell you that the 9/11 commission, which was to receive every bit of information available, wasn't given any information on this," former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean said yesterday. "Either the story is untrue or the government withheld information from us."

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) said this week he has been told by several sources in military intelligence that as early as 1999, a top-secret Pentagon spy program called "Able Danger" identified Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers as possible members of an alQaeda cell.

Weldon said the spy unit recommended alerting the FBI, but that lawyers in both the Clinton and Bush administrations ruled the intelligence information could not be shared with law enforcement.

Lee Hamilton, who co-chaired the commission with Kean, said Weldon's claims would be reviewed by the commission, which has officially disbanded, and that a statement could be issued by the end of the week.

"The 9/11 commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohamed Atta or of his cell," Hamilton said. "Had we learned of it, obviously it would've been a major focus of our investigation."

Speaking on Fox News yesterday, Weldon said he has been talking publicly for months about the charges, but that they drew attention only when the New York Times ran a story on its front page Tuesday.

"The information's been out there, and I've briefed members of key committee staff and leadership in the Congress, and there are actually investigations under way right now about this," he said.

"Able Danger" identified a Brooklyn-based alQaeda cell consisting of Atta and fellow 9/11 terrorists Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi, Weldon said.

The Kean commission investigated the seeds of the attack that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in western Pennsylvania. It concluded, among other things, that the federal government failed to recognized signals that an attack was in the works and failed to share information among intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Yesterday advocates for the families of those who died in the attacks questioned whether the Kean commission went far enough in probing the government about what was known of the hijackers before the attack.

"We are horrified to learn of further possible evidence that the ... commission failed to fully investigate all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the 9/11 attacks," said a statement by the group called September 11th Advocates.

Bill Doyle of Staten Island, whose son was killed at the World Trade Center, called Weldon's allegations credible and said they confirmed his suspicion that the commission did not fulfill its obligations.

"It is more evidence that there has been a cover-up about 9/11 and that there should be open hearings into all these things," said Doyle, a longtime family activist who attended most the commission's hearings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

911 inquiry bias
Commission ignored atta claims by pentagon { August 13 2005 }
Commission not told of pre 911 slipup { August 11 2005 }
Errors of 911 commission on hijackers { August 23 2005 }
Intelligence says 911 commission didnt try hard { August 17 2005 }
New atta information conflicts with commission timeline { August 11 2005 }
Two democrats walk out during bush cheney questioing { April 30 2004 }
Widows say kean wasnt aggresive { July 23 2004 }

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